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Progress in the fight to save Tasmanian devils

The Upbeat

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A Tasmanian devil (Thinkstock)

A Tasmanian devil (Thinkstock)

Good news for Tasmanian devils.

After an epidemic of contagious tumors killed off up to 90 percent of the species, a new program for wild Tasmanian devils is making positive strides.

According to Australia's ABC News, the "Save the Devil" program put 15 of the animals on Maria Island, off the east coast of Tasmania, last November. Wildlife biologist Phil Wise said, "we've got eight females on the island at the moment and so far we've been able to catch five of those and of all of those five had between four and two pouch young."

The island is serving as a kind of quarantine for healthy Tasmanian devils. "If the disease does go the way of causing extinction on the mainland of Tasmania, then knowing there's a wild population here that's disease free will be something to look back on and be very proud of."

The tumors first appeared in 1996 and are spread via bites. The tumors are still a massive problem on Tasmania. The state's Environment Minister Brian Wightman said researchers are continuing to investigate how many devils could live on Maria Island.

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